The blog awards

I’m still trying to work it out, but perhaps its as obvious as the number of readers of newspapers with headlines about young women having sex with aliens. I think it’s an indictment on SA blogging when 2oceansvibe wins 6 categories, including ‘Best South African’ blog in this year’s SA Blog Awards. I mean, I have nothing against the blog (I realise that there is a pretty large audience for tits, ass, cars, rugby and surfing) but the fact that this is the blog that we hold up to the world as our national pride and joy makes me want to hurl. Actually, this comment by 2oceansvibe’s author, Seth Rotherham seems to sum up where blogging in SA is at right now:

picture-221

I was a judge in this year’s awards. That involved me going to a website to vote for my favorite blogs in 3 categories. Votes were weighted in favor of public votes. According to the rules, that means that ‘In the voting phase the vote weighting will be 30% judges and 70% public’ whereas in the nomination phase it is ‘50% judges 50% public’.

In the future, I think we need to distinguish between popular voted blogs and then get the judges together to discuss their choice of winners that best reflects where South Africa is right now and where it is heading (and that’s not just in terms of the Internet which is very white, middle class and English right now). I’m really not blaming the awesome guys like Miguel dos Santos, Chris Rawlinson and the team who put this together at the last minute. I just think in the future we need to have a vision for things like this that has a lot more to do with the future of blogging in SA than a chance for the same few to continue to dominate the spotlight.

If the blog awards brand doesn’t have any meaning, any vision, any unique take on the world of blogging, then I guess it will be just another popularity contest – which is fine – but just not what I hoped for SA.

25 thoughts on “The blog awards

  1. I am 40 year old female – not even a little bit interested in rugby, tits, or cars….
    Not that demographic at all.

    But … 2oceansvibe is brilliant. You, of all people (I read “About”), should get that.

    Seth has done, and SUSTAINED, what almost no one ever does – a brilliantly written, funny, entertaining and engaging website that is a brand unto itself and also (more importantly?) a brilliant 2.0 marketing venue. I mean, really, who else has done that? Kottke – no. Dooce – no (but she almost gets it). Definitely not HuffPo. Gawker is good – but they don’t move people to do anything other than write snarky comments.

    Seth gives the people (and the marketers) what they want. He gives us what we never knew we wanted – but now we really want. Or are, at the very least, laughing about it.

    Lighten up. Don’t take yourself, or your “passions”, so seriously.
    It’s boring. Nobody reads boring.

  2. I agree with you, Heather. Of course you’re quite right, and I think you should take the comment above (and the sheep-like comments emanating from 2oceansvibe’s sheep fold) for what they are: the bewildered baa-aa’s of an audience who are so dumbed down they order condensed volumes of Heat Magazine to match their leounge sweets.

    Seth’s little tantrum is laughable – what, Seth, you can dish it out, but you can’t take it on the chin? – and the reactions of his commenters so, laak, duh, Brad, that they aren’t worth wasting my breath on.

    I’m not disagreeing with this blog winning the SA Blog of the Year; I actually think it’s well deserved: it’s popular, well-supported and hugely appreciated by its woolly-headed fans. Just like Jacob Zuma is.

    But, I have to say that I agree that it’s an indictment on South African blogging when the best blog – the very best – we can present to the world is one that recycles all the usual Internet flotsam and jetsam, and presents it as if it’s something new and original.

  3. Why don´t you change the rules to: 100% your opinion and 0% all the other stupid people out there. That would make life so much easier, wouldn´t it?

  4. ExAfrica – thanks for the great comment (really, I mean it). Totally agree with you that Seth’s blog has done a great job building a brand, becoming sustainable etc etc. That’s not what I’m arguing about. I’m saying that maybe it shouldn’t just be about the sustainability of the blog. Maybe it should also be because the blog reflects something unique about South Africa in all its diversity. Or maybe we should just have a conversation about what the blog awards should be about. Enough of the defensiveness – people read defensiveness (unlike boring) – but it’s not very helpful.

    Pulease – Lol. You’re much more articulate on 2oceans than I am – although, again, hoping that we can have a conversation about what it should be about too.

    Chris – Yes, well, that’s what my blog is for, isn’t it? I could have my own blog awards any day of the year if that’s what I wanted. Amazing, isn’t it?

    Oh, and all of you – would be nice if I knew your real names. It’s important.

  5. I’m not disagreeing with this blog winning the SA Blog of the Year; I actually think it’s well deserved: it’s popular, well-supported and hugely appreciated by its woolly-headed fans. Just like Jacob Zuma is.

    But, I have to say that I agree that it’s an indictment on South African blogging when the best blog – the very best – we can present to the world is one that recycles all the usual Internet flotsam and jetsam, and presents it as if it’s something new and original.

    Heather: your comments hit a nerve it seems, but i could not agree more, or say it better than Puhlease said. i could only add that 6 awards is JUST TOO MUCH. Many much more creative blogs around …

  6. Fordie Ford, it sounds as though you’re having a problem with democracy here. In my mind doesn’t that make you a communist? :)

    Look, I don’t think it’s worth debating whether 2Oceansvibe is an acceptable blog to promote as the best South African blog. The fact of the matter is that liking Seth’s blog comes down to taste. One might argue that liking 2Oceansvibe is akin to not having taste but again, this is a question of choice. I am a Seth fan purely because he’s managed to create an amazing brand out of a website as well as sustain his lifestyle through this brand. That’s impressive and more than any other blog in this country can attest to. Surely for that alone he deserves so kudos?

    What we can debate about though is procedure.

    Your issue is about the way the votes are skewed between popular votes and the judges votes. Well I don’t think Judges should technically come into the picture. What makes a judge qualified to make a call as to which blog is the best? The judges are normal bloggers that just happened to volunteer or be asked to judge. Frankly you might as well call them the “NPA” rather than judges. There’s plenty of bias and a fair share of people with agendas. Pissed off one of the judges in the last few months? You cannot say they are not going to promote their own agenda surely?

    Yes, it’s the white guy club at the moment but that’s unfortunately the Internet in South Africa. Blame the late communications minister for this faulting.

    Sorry Heather, I think you’ve stuck your foot in your mouth on this one :)

  7. Heather

    An opinion is like an a-hole everyone has got one and your entitled to yours. Sad enough the opinions of the public and the judges counted more than yours. I have never heard of your blog thus i haven’t read it, never the less, from a bird-eye point of view it would seem that bad mouthing the winner is probably not the best idea.

  8. First time I am here. Never heard of this blog till I read Seth’s piece. I thought he took your hit pretty well. He speaks to his audience – I assume you do too…maybe though yours is a bit more niche or non-existent by comparison?

    I found you via the place you hurl on. In Blog terms that says a lot.
    R

  9. I am with SaulK on this one too. It is down to taste and who are we to determine what is right to represent South Africa’s blogosphere? A political blog? A design blog? A cartoon blog? A food blog? Which is the right one?

  10. 2Oceansvibe is FANTASTIC!
    I am a female student currently completing my Masters in Law – so, I’m no idiot. You seem to imply that his blog is aimed at dimwitted men – I assure you that you are mistaken. Perhaps you should take some time to actually read it.

    Blogs, like Seth’s, uplift my spirits, make me laugh when I’m stressed and, most importantly, make me appreciate living in SA especially in Cape Town.

    I think we have a case of sour grapes on our hands!
    If you want to be serious and “uphold national pride” get a job at The Sunday Times and leave the entertaining to those who can … like Seth and his fellow winners and nominees. What Seth does takes enormous talent, humour and time. He is dedicated to keeping his audience enthralled – and he does! I think he is an ambassador for our amazing country. We are surrounded my negative people, who are always looking for something to complain about and intent on bringing others down (yourself included, it seems). How great it is to have someone who is light-hearted and positive! THAT’S WHY HE WON!! Perhaps you should try it sometime!

  11. I don’t think Heather needs any help, but the discussion is veering off in a direction that makes no sense. Nobody has a problem with 2oceansvibe winning an award. As I understand Heather’s point she is disappointed that the diversity and richness of culture that she appreciates about this country is not reflected in the blogosphere, and that the SA blog awards did not try harder to bring out some of the things that might be happening off the mainstream radar. It’s about the awards, not 2oceansvibe. There is an obvious down-side to one publication winning 6 awards in that it makes SA look pretty bleak in terms of our blogosphere – and I don’t think that is fully justified. There is a lot of interesting stuff happening.

    The reason for this seems to be the interest of the award organisers themselves. I had a look at the web-site and from the list of sponsors and the types of blogs that were selected, there seems to be a strong marketing/communications angle to the awards. I personally am more interested in citizen media, or political analysis of what is going in this country, but the nice thing about blog-publishing is that there is something for everyone. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to connect the commercial/marketing angle and the important political and social function blogs can play – maybe a few extra categories for best political analysis or best art blog next year?

    Keep it friendly people!

  12. I think that 2Oceansvibe.com has got blogging absolutely spot-on. A diversified content base (not just girls, rugby and cars) which really makes a substantial effort to promotoe all things South African (and particularly Capetonian). The amount of exposure he gives events, brands, wine-farms, places etc is amazing and should be admired. So, what is not uniquely South African about this? So its not a political blog, it’s laughable to suggest that to be a great blog in South Africa we must constantly give politics exposure. There’s more to living in SA than constantly debating politics. I’ll read the paper, or Jonty Fisher or any number of other channels for this. In fact one of the best articles I’ve read on the current political climate was as a result of a link I followed on 2Oceansvibe to the Fishbowl.

    So perhaps his sense of humour and manner won’t appeal to everyone, but I’d say that the numbers who follow the blog speak volumes for this. The effort to blog regularly, maintain a loyal readership, introduce new innovations (the radio-show, 2oceansvibe TV etc) and actively engage in e-marketing really shows the level of commitment Seth has to creating a truly exceptional blog. This should be recognised and admired. So what if there’s no real competition to this at the moment – hopefully he will set the example that others will attempt to compete with.

  13. This reminds me of a technical text-book. I got to the 3rd sentence and felt like going to sleep. Instead of finding fault on 2oceansvibe, try to beef your blog up to not have that effect. You might give him a run for his money….

  14. Heather,

    “If the blog awards brand doesn’t have any meaning, any vision, any unique take on the world of blogging, then I guess it will be just another popularity contest – which is fine – but just not what I hoped for SA.”

    I definitely agree with this sober view. If blogging is not about sharing views about pertinent issues that have relevance to society at large then it has absolutely no value. The fact that certain blogs attract “clicks” does not make them valuable, important or even good. Otherwise the Daily Sun would be rated the best newspaper in the land. I believe we are indeed missing an opportunity if we will reduce this wonderful technological innovation (blogging) to a mere mindless tool for cyber-addicts seeking escapism instead or tackling pertinent issues.

  15. Heather,

    “If the blog awards brand doesn’t have any meaning, any vision, any unique take on the world of blogging, then I guess it will be just another popularity contest – which is fine – but just not what I hoped for SA.”

    I definitely agree with this sober view. If blogging is not about sharing views about pertinent issues that have relevance to society at large then it has absolutely no value. The fact that certain blogs attract “clicks” does not make them valuable, important or even good. Otherwise the Daily Sun would be rated the best newspaper in the land. I believe we are indeed missing an opportunity if we will reduce this wonderful technological innovation (blogging) to a mere mindless tool for cyber-addicts seeking escapism instead of tackling pertinent issues.

  16. I think your point about the lack of diversity in the SA Blog awards is an important one.

    Not only were a relatively small group of blogs nominated (some several times) but all the nominees (and winners/runners up) in the best African Language blog were Afrikaans-language blogs.

    Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s great that the Afrikaans blogosphere is thriving. It’s a great way for a language community to stake out a small part of the Internet.

    But where are the other African-language blogs? Is it really possible that nobody is blogging in isiZulu? Or Sesotho? Or isiXhosa? Really?
    Or could it be that none were nominated becuase the (relatively) small community who participated in the nomination/voting process only speak English and Afrikaans and there was a language barrier? And if this is the case, what does that say about the demographics of the people participating?

    As you can see, I have no answers. But I think we should probably ask these questions of an award that claims to be representative of South African bloggers.

  17. Pitso makes a great point.

    Say the journalism community started a national award for the best South African newspaper. If it was judged like the blog awards, then the Daily Sun would probably win it hands down. Just think of it: the Daily Sun would be the shining example of the best newspaper in South Africa.

    The added problem of having an award like this in a medium where only about 10% of the population is online is that votes for a national award are being cast solely by a highly elite market segment, meaning that the winners will necessarily come from that same demographic.

    If we want the Blog Awards to mean anything, we need to accommodate for this crazy feature of South African society. And no, SaulK, we can’t simply ‘Blame the late communications minister for this faulting’ (i.e. the ‘white guy club’). We are better than that. More innovative, I’m sure of it :)

  18. Well over the past 2-3 SA Blog Awards Mushy Peas on toast won best post,best SA Blog, best Comedy blog, best new blog, most smelly vomit on a blog etc. By following the awards you might well have assumed that there was only one blog competing or that Mushy Peas was getting spread pretty thin around the judges. The awards must be improving because Mushy got awarded exactly squat this year, which says something.

  19. Oh Heather, I agree with so much that you say. I was stunned at first when I saw how many awards 2oceansvibe had won, but then I realised that Seth has a few very positive things going for him: he certainly runs one of the best commercialised blogs in South Africa and he has that Perez Hilton effect – the general public loves it.

    And the general public on the blogosphere in South Africa at the moment is mainly white, urban middle class. Seth caters perfectly to his audience – blogging 101.

    Do I think it is the Best Blog in South Africa, hell no!

    But this is a popular vote competition, like Idols and the more support one can drum up, the better your chances of winning.

    I also wouldn’t like the judges to have a bigger say either, unless we had a panel of international judges who had no agendas or investment in the local blogs.

    So, we must just sit tight and let Seth enjoy his moment of glory.

    The great thing about social media is that it is self-correcting – over time.

    As broadband becomes more affordable, more players will run onto the field and the play will change.

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